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Transcript of remarks by SCMA at media session

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, at a media session after attending the Legislative Council Subcommittee on Proposals on the Method for Selecting the Chief Executive in 2017 meeting today (May 7):

Reporter: There is a judicial review case accusing the Government's (constitutional) reform advertisement shown on TV and elsewhere of misleading the public. Would the Government consider dropping the advertisement for the time being while the case is ongoing?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: At a general level, I think our position on APIs, i.e. Announcements in the Public Interest, has been clearly spelt out in recent weeks on several public occasions. I do not repeat our position here. On the specific case that you have mentioned, as always, since it has formally entered into judicial proceeding, the SAR Government should not offer further comment on that.

Reporter: Would you drop the advertisement for the time being while it is in judicial process?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: We would not wish to respond to this question. As I said, we have now a formal judicial review case with the court. I should not enter into further, detailed comment on the case.

Reporter: Why do you say it's unfair for Fanny Law to single out certain pan-democrat lawmakers for being eligible candidates to get past the nominating committee approval and become candidates?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: At a very technical level, I would say, should Ronny Tong respond positively, I may need to start charging his election expenses. On a more serious note, on the political level, since we are now designing the system, the system should not be tailor-made for individuals. The system should not be tailor-made for individual political parties. Everyone aspiring to become the CE (Chief Executive) from 2017 should compete on equal footing, and should compete on their ideology, strength, experience, team, their dedication to public service, and above all, their willingness to sacrifice themselves - sometimes to the extent they have to sacrifice the benefit of their own family to take up this public office.

     I would say, for serious matters as such, I personally would not venture to suggest that one should enter into a very casual chatting and put forward any names so as to exert undue pressure on individuals. After all, it would be unfair to other aspiring candidates. In any case, it would be too early to tell - we have not yet got the two-thirds majority of support in the Legislative Council (LegCo). At the end of the day, that may be academic. So, I would rather focus our efforts on pushing forward (the proposal) in LegCo first.

Reporter: Do you think the Government is going to win more support at this stage and, how do you comment on some political figures putting pressure on Hong Kong, like Tung Chee-hwa saying that China may give up Hong Kong and even John Tsang warned that maybe the stock market will drop if legislators veto the package?

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs: Those comments that you have referred to were made by those who genuinely care for Hong Kong and genuinely hope that Hong Kong will continue to thrive and prosper in the days or years to come. I would not go into their detailed comments because I think everyone is entitled to make their own comments, including the Financial Secretary. I am not a stock market expert; I won't predict the future trend of the stock market.

     On your first question, how would I assess the latest support of our proposal? Two dimensions: in the LegCo, I think the situation remains the same as a couple of months ago. I don't think we have been successful in getting further votes and that we have been able to convince. At the same time, if you look at the various opinion polls - I would not comment on individual poll's result - but if you take the big picture, if you look at the trend of various polls together, you can find there are actually several layers of support. If you ask those people whether they would accept the decision of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), the result would be yes and no, half-and-half. If you ask the question whether they would support the SAR Government's proposal, then the result would be 50 per cent as against 30 something per cent. If you look at whether they think the LegCo should pass the Government's proposal, then it would be 50 something to 60 (per cent) as against 30 something (per cent). If you ask one further question, as one TV station did last week, i.e. if the Central Government would promise that in future there would be further refinement of the electoral system, then the support rate would go as high as 66 per cent.

     So, all in all, I think those in opposition to the Government's proposal or the NPCSC's decision remain at 30 to 38 per cent - that's quite a solid opposition. But if you look at the support rate, depending on how you view the matter and whether there is a prospect for further refinement, you may get a different result. My own reading is that, despite the difference in opinion about the (NPCSC's) decision and the SAR Government's proposal, for some Hong Kong citizens, despite their disapproval, if you like, of our proposal, yet they think the LegCo should nevertheless pass our proposal. Therefore, there would be some percentage point difference there. But I won't venture to say more than what I've just said - it's anybody's own analysis. What I've just said only represents Raymond Tam's own interpretation and does not represent the SAR Government's interpretation. But it's quite telling, if you look at the big picture and various polls conducted by various agencies. It's quite interesting to look at that. I personally hope that our public support would go further up, but we have exhausted all our talents. Hopefully, we can get it passed, but we will see, there are still five or six weeks to come.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Thursday, May 7, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:40


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